Suggested Activities

Child Life Month Activity Ideas

Looking for some creative ways to celebrate Child Life Month in your hospital or work place? The following series of ideas and templates is designed to kick-start your child life program's observance of Child Life Month.

However you choose to celebrate, remember to have fun and share your pride in the great work you do! And don’t forget to tell the Association of Child Life Professionals about your successes.

Email communications@childlife.org with your adaptations of these ideas, or with new activities so we can add them to the list here to inspire others.

POSTERS AND DISPLAYS

  1. Post the child life mission, vision, values, and operating principles at a reception area or near your office in a fun and easy-to-read format.
  2. Develop five posters showing the who, what, when, where and why of child life.
    • Who: general information on education, training, certification, photo of child life staff with their names and roles.
    • What: Child life role, history of child life at your facility.
    • When: On-call, hours, special situations when child life staff are available to help.
    • Where: Places in your facility and the community where Certified Child Life Specialists® are available, e.g., Emergency Department, PICU, Hematology/Oncology, etc.
    • Why: The value of psychosocial care in promoting physical healing and emotional well-being of children.
  3. Display posters in various common staff areas, and move daily so each poster spends a day in each location.
  4. Have children complete the sentence "A Certified Child Life Specialist is..." and post a list of their responses on a prominent wall or other frequently visited public space. Or make a larger display of their responses and/or illustrations for the lobby or common area.
  5. Make a display for the lobby or reception area with photos of child life staff at work. Highlight specialty services such as therapeutic discussions, expressive play, and medical play. (Don’t forget to obtain releases prior to taking or posting photos).
  6. Before Child Life Month, pass out a form to hospital staff asking them to answer the question, “How does child life help you?” Ask the staff to describe an incident when/where/how child life provided assistance. Post responses with photos of the respondents. Do your best to include a variety of professions from the interdisciplinary team.
  7. Provide displays that note the “Serious Side of Child Life.” These displays could note how child life meets the needs of the dying and grieving child.
  8. Collect medical art created by patients/ family members within your practice and provide a display at a local mall, government office lobby, etc. Include information about child life services available in your community.

EDUCATIONAL/INFORMATIVE EVENTS

  1. Conduct an in-service or brown bag lunch for colleagues and/or families on topics such as coping with a parental illness; mental illness; comfort positioning during medical interventions; or other specialty topics. You could also highlight a special aspect of your program (e.g., animal visits, outdoor play, pre-admission tours).

2.  Present an educational session on a topic of interest or ethical challenge to the interdisciplinary team, at grand rounds, to nursing or medical students, etc.

3. Plan a child life staff retreat and incorporate goal planning, education, team building, and self-care techniques.

4. Host a developmental fair for staff, patients, and families. Set up booths in a public area for different age groups. Each age group booth could include safety tips, developmental milestones, and recommended books and toys for that age group. Have handouts available at each booth with staff present to answer any questions.

5. Host a Child Life Open House. Staff can break into groups and create booths along the themes of specialties such as medical play, coping, playroom programming, etc. There can also be a general booth that has the title: “What do Certified Child Life Specialists do?” With the subtitles: Provide Play Opportunities…; Promote Family-Centered Care, which…; Facilitates Medical Play, which…The visitors could receive a paper doll with bio info including age, diagnosis, etc. As the visitors tour the booths, each CLS can address how child life could meet the patient’s needs relating to the information provided.

6. Send short educational child life messages via email at work. Topics could include: Ways to help a child understand serious illness; Ways to communicate with children regarding death and loss; Ways to prepare children for hospitalization/ illness/ treatment etc…

7. Host a Child Life Jenga or Child Life Jeopardy Game

 for members of the healthcare team or for patients and families.

SPECIAL PROJECTS & GIVEAWAYS

Especially for Staff

  1. Place the letters  CCLS vertically on a t-shirt and with fabric paint write adjectives next to each letter that describe your personality. Try it in a group and swap with a friend to get the best descriptors. Make table tents for the cafeteria/staff lunch room explaining what Certified Child Life Specialists do.
  2. Special-order beach balls with the phrase, “Have a Ball! Child Life Month.”
  3. Provide staff with small distraction toys to promote understanding of the therapeutic benefits of distraction and to get connected with the child within. The Association of Child Life Specialists (ACLP) has items available for sale preprinted with the ACLP name and logo.
  4. Develop comfort kits for treatment rooms or the like, and teach staff ways to utilize the kits.
  5. Hold a contest or raffle with 10 questions about child life, with info/answers drawn from the who, what, where, why posters.
  6. Develop a Rolodex® card, laminated reference cards, badges, or the like, listing child life phone/pager numbers. Distribute to relevant staff or to your areas of service.
  7. Create guidelines on how to enhance coping of infants, children, youth and families during treatment or other difficult situations, and distribute to hospital staff.
  8. Provide your administrators and staff with copies of Psychosocial Care of Children in Hospitals or ACLP’s Activity Recipe Book.

Especially for Children

  1. Make paper placemats for the hospital cafeteria that explain what Certified Child Life Specialists do and invite children to decorate them.
  2. Have children create a Child Life Month T-shirt from shirts and fabric paints.
  3. Call local civic organizations (Rotary Club, Kiwanis, church groups, and women’s clubs) and offer to give a short talk at a luncheon or meeting about children in hospitals, children’s issues within your organization, or the child life profession.
  4. Contact the public relations, development, and marketing departments of your organization and let them know you are available to speak to community media and/or service-related organizations so when they get requests for speakers, they will contact your department. Arrange for the media to interview a child-friendly physician about the values of child life.

STAFF APPRECIATION

  1. Identify staff members from other disciplines who truly recognize the value of and advocate for child life for their patients. Honor all staff persons with a certificate of excellence. This could be done in each area that child life practices within your facility.
  2. Lunch or ice cream social for child life staff. Have an offsite party or have a staff retreat.
  3. Order child life shirts for staff.

Child Life Profession